Rain check: Monsoon yet to strike but chikungunya knocks out 66 in Chandigarh
The monsoon season has not even begun, yet the incidence of vector-borne diseases has set the alarm bells ringing. Chandigarh has already reported 66 cases of chikungunya, 15 cases of dengue and 25 of malaria.
Though considered one of the cleanest cities in India, the UT has been falling prey to the mosquito sting rather too frequently.The dengue cases in the city have been on the rise, going from 13 in 2014 to 856 in 2016.
Chikungunya, a potentially deadly disease, also spread its tentacles in the city last year with 272 cases. Calling this number unprecedented, Dr Gaurav Aggarwal, the UT anti-malaria officer, said, “The digitised records of the UT health department from 1990 onwards don’t show a single case of chikungunya in Chandigarh until 2011, when only one case was reported.”
These are only the registered cases, experts say many people may not have reported to hospitals.
While the UT health department denies any death because of dengue last year, a resident complained to the health secretary about the “negligent” attitude of GMCH-32 staff, which led to the death of his daughter suffering from dengue.
Though the situation is no better this year, the UT heath officials are either calling the cases old or are tracing the infection to some other city.
Despite the gravity of the situation, the department does not have a full-time assistant director, malaria wing.
Dr Deepak Bakhshi of GMSH-16 has been given the additional charge but he remains busy with other work.
Meanwhile, one round of fogging has already been done throught the city. The authorities plan another round at the end of July. Also, for the first time, organic insecticides will be sprayed in all the choes in the city, a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
The UT administration will launch two mobile applications by July end. One of these will be for people to report a mosquito-breeding site and seek action. The second is for the department staff to record a live update of cases, progress in creating awareness etc.
Much bitten Mohali learns a lesson, preps in advance
Once bitten, twice shy the Mohali health authorities claim to have launched their war on mosquitoes much before the onset of monsoon. One round of fogging is over, the hospitals are prepared, and the medicine stocked.
Dengue claimed four lives in the district last year. This was the highest ever in the last five years. This year, the authorities claim to have received 31 suspected cases, but they are quick to underline that dengue has not been confirmed.
Last year, the spiraling number of dengue and chikungunya cases had kept the health officials on their toes throughout the rains and even later. With the number of dengue cases shooting up from 556 in 2015 to 2088 in 2016, the district authorities were caught unprepared. The city also registered 100 cases of chikungunya, up from zero in 2015.
The authorities scrambled to procure diagnostics kits to detect chikungunya. This test was done if dengue was not detected. The tests were free in government hospitals which also provided free treatment to patients.
A large number of cases poured in from Phase 3, 7 and 10. Other affected areas were Balongi and Jagatpura. Construction sites and flats where fogging could not reach top floors were also hit hard.
Officials say community awareness is essential to weed out the breeding places of mosquitoes. Meanwhile, the authorities are on high alert for any signs of mosquitoes.
Fogging to awareness, Panchkula readies for war
Panchkula Last year, Panchkula recorded 187 cases of dengue while chikungunya cases went up to 79. Most of these cases came from the periphery. With monsoon at the doorstep, Panchkula’s health department claims that it has already taken preventive measures by visiting these areas besides conducting a survey of residential areas in old Panchkula, Rajiv colony, Indira Colony, Abheypur, Haripur, and Baldwala.
Larval source management (LSM) is being done by spraying deltamethrin to reduce the adult population of the dengue vector Aedes aegypt. “Two rounds of deltamethrin have already been sprayed in critical areas. Now we are focusing on spreading awareness,” said Dr V K Singh, the Panchkula civic surgeon. The schools and educational institutes will also be visited after the summer vacation.
The health department has also issued a circular to all private labs directing them against charging more than Rs 600 for the dengue test. The residents can approach the civil surgeon if labs are found overcharging. Last year, many labs were sealed for fleecing people despite the state health department laying down the charges.
The MC, which was given the fogging operation this year, has completed one round of fogging from May 1 to mid June. Another round is likely in July end when the monsoon is in full flow.
(Last of the fifth part series)